Trent Alexander-Arnold: Liverpool's ability to 'dig deep' on show again against Everton
Right-back says team's resolve to keep going until the final whistle has helped them pull off results against PSG, Chelsea and most recently Everton
If the league table famously does not lie, it can nonetheless have a distorting effect. Manchester City won the title by an English record 19 points last season, but that nevertheless owed much to some crucial late goals, especially in the first half of the season. Not every game was won by emphatic margins.
This season, there is the same sense that destinies can be determined by late drama. Riyad Mahrez’s penalty miss at Anfield, enabling Liverpool to draw 0-0, could be a case in point. So, too, Divock Origi’s 96th-minute winner in Sunday’s Merseyside derby. A four-point deficit at the top of the table became a mere two. Liverpool remain on City’s heels.
“Everybody probably thought we’d settled for the draw but we’ve shown this season that we dig deep many a time and come up with the goods late on,” said Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose long ball forward led indirectly to Origi’s goal.
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“It’s massive for us. We’ve shown with PSG at home and then Chelsea away and now Everton – three times this season– that something that we’re doing is staying in games and then producing in the last minutes.”
Roberto Firmino got the injury-time decider against Paris Saint-Germain as a replacement. The substitute Daniel Sturridge struck an equaliser at Stamford Bridge. The fact that each came off the bench to make a difference suggests Liverpool have more strength in depth. A record showing they have conceded only five times in 14 league games gives them the platform to deliver telling goals.
“Keeping a clean sheet gives us the foundation to go and do these things,” said the right-back. “If we’re 1-0 down and score in the last minute it’s only 1-1.” If the importance of Origi’s goal was reflected in Jurgen Klopp’s dash to the centre circle to celebrate with a surprised Alisson, the meaning of it was clear to Alexander-Arnold, a local facing Everton for the first time.
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“Emotions get the best of you, especially in games like this,” he said. “To do it that way was amazing. It’s something you dream of. It’s very special to play in the Merseyside derby and especially win. It’s one that all the players will remember for a long time.”
Origi, in particular. The Belgian, who was loaned out to Wolfsburg last season, had gone 19 months without a Liverpool goal and had spurned a glorious chance three minutes after his introduction. “He probably hasn’t played as much as he’s wanted to,” said Alexander-Arnold. “After the miss it’s easy to put your head down and settle for a point. But it’s a credit to his character and his mentality to be in the right position.”
Origi gave an insight into his thinking. “I think was like a trap for a striker when you miss a chance and you keep dwelling on it,” he said. “For me, my reaction was: ‘Focus, chill, play my game.’”
Liverpool’s next one is at Burnley on Wednesday and, as they are proving, games are not over until the final whistle is blown.
Updated: December 4, 2018 08:07 AM